Tap into Maple hits the sweet spot! Spring has sprung and warmer days are here as our region’s maple trees start producing their liquid gold sap, ready to be produced into delicious maple treats. Take part in Tap Into Maple, from March 3 to April 2, a self-guided tour through lesser-traveled routes to locations around the region celebrating all things maple from harvesting and boiling to enjoying. Visit working sugar shacks that offer a firsthand view of the maple syrup process, dine out at restaurants with maple inspired menus and shop for maple infused treats and specialty stores. With 21 locations participating in Tap Into Maple, here’s some highlights of what’s on so you don’t miss out on all things maple!
Visit the Producers
March is a busy time of year for maple producers as it’s time to harvest flowing sap, working around the clock to collect and boil down the liquid gold into our favourite amber treat. From large vacuum operations, gravity tubes that work with the landscape, or traditional bucket collection, each producer has a slightly different process that is unique to their operation. Our local producers are eager to showcase this process with visitors, offering self-guided trails, demonstrations and tours.
At The FarmGate, just outside of Brechin, Bert Harrington shows visitors maple syrup being boiled outside in the open air with steam flowing continuously.
Over in Severn, two producers make it a family operation. At Backwoods Maple Syrup, Corey and Paul Vandergeest and Paul and Trevor Partridge tap over 2,000 trees on their family farm. Just ten minutes away, over at Maple Grove Syrup, Brent and Amy Beers offer pre-registered guided tours through their sugar bush on weekends. Both producers have road stands with their latest syrup and maple products available for purchase.
Oro-Medonte’s rolling hills and canopied forests make it a haven for five of our local producers. At Elsie’s Creek Farm, Carl Campitelli uses a wood-fired evaporator in a traditional sugar shack, embracing the historical elements of our region. McCutcheon’s Maple Syrup opens up their sugar shack for visitors on the weekends of March 25th and April 1st. Sugar Sweet Farm has a porch stand, open seven days a week, with fresh syrup and locally produced honey when available. Hutchinson Maple Syrup has a brand new sugar shack, open for visitors to pick up product and hike through the sugar bush. Finally, indulging in a pancake meal at Shaw’s Maple Syrup is a must-do stop to herald in the maple season. Horse-drawn sleigh rides are also available through Shaw’s sugar bush.
In Tiny Township, Windlee Farms Maple Syrup is a family owned and operated business for over a quarter of a century with syrup hand crafted the traditional way on a wood fired evaporator from over 500 taps along the shores of Georgian Bay.
Dining with Maple
Part of what makes maple season so special is the many ways it can enrich flavours of all kinds. Whether it’s being served with pancakes or incorporated into a fine dining dish, it compliments whatever menu it’s on. Our local restaurants have risen to the challenge to partner with local maple producers to design seasonal menu creations, for a limited time only during Tap into Maple.
In Oro-Medonte, head to Off Eleven Pizza + Eats, at the Simcoe Regional Airport for two specialty dishes using locally produced Hutchinson’s Maple Syrup. You won’t want to miss a stop at Quayle’s Brewery for their special Maple Rumpy Coffee Maple Porter, infused with McCutcheon’s Maple Syrup.
Stop over in Orillia for a stay at Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn, and check out the G&O Bistro for a special three-course maple-inspired dinner.
Over in Ramara, Lagoon City Pier One Resort has a special Maple Salmon dish on the menu feature Harrington’s Maple Syrup from The Farmgate, just a few minutes away.
Extend your stay in Orillia & Lake Country at Casino Rama Resort and indulge in many maple dining experiences. At The Weirs Breakfast Restaurant enjoy a specialty pancake breakfast, or stop by the Cedar Express featuring maple-inspired beverages and pastries. Enjoy a lunch or dinner with maple menu options at Couchiching Court Buffet or go all in on St. Germain’s maple inspired three-course specialty menu.
Shop the Markets
Hewitt’s Farm Market & Bakery is stocked with maple goodies for visitors to their store in Warminster. Enjoy Hewitt’s Pure Maple Syrup, maple pecan muffins, lollipops, suckers, toffee and maple sugar, as well as maple barbecue sauces, bacon, sausages, butter, fudge and loaves.
The Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers Market celebrates Tap into Maple all month at ODAS Park with vendors featuring maple products from syrup to baked goods. On Saturday, March 25, from 9am to 1pm, bring the family out to a special Tap into Maple Pancake Breakfast with games and activities for kids!
Visit the Orillia Farmers’ Market in Downtown Orillia at the Orillia Public Library Saturday mornings and pick up maple products from Pyrvalley Maple Syrup.
Indulge in maple treats while shopping around the region. In Craighurst, Chelsea Chocolates will be offering a special maple truffle and buttercream along with their decadent hand-crafted chocolates. Over in downtown Orillia, check out Susie Q Fudge & Gifts (in the downstairs of Mariposa Market) where they’ll be offering sweet treats including store-made maple fudge to enjoy. Coldwater’s Copperpot Nuts will also feature maple coated nut treats that are perfect while on the go! Finally, stop in at Rama Cannabis and learn about maple infused products from educated budmasters in their state-of-the-art building.
Special Sweetwater Events!
The Sweetwater Harvest Festival returns for two weekends at the end of March at Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre with loads of family fun activities, delicious food and educational opportunities. New to the festival this year includes even more maple activities at Saint-Marie Among the Hurons. One ticket for two locations of awesome maple experiences! Tickets must be purchased 24 hours in advance.
Rounding out the month is Maple Weekend, presented by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, which runs April 1st and 2nd. Experience the traditional maple sugaring craft and taste why pure Ontario maple syrup is a favourite springtime treat. This Ontario-spread event features a number of Orillia & Lake Country producers that are also part of Tap Into Maple including Backwoods Maple Syrup, Elsie’s Creek Farm, Hutchinson Maple Syrup, Maple Grove Syrup, Shaw’s Maple Syrup, and Windlee Farms Maple Syrup.
It may be a grand finale for Tap Into Maple, but Maple Weekend is a kick-off for the spring sales of maple products in our area.
Get ready to indulge your sweet tooth at the Tap into Maple experience!
For all the details visit TapIntoMaple.com
Extend your stay in Orillia after a day of adventuring through the Lake Country region. Book your accommodations at a cozy hotel with amenities and easy access to local restaurants and shops.
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